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Maine AG files suit against EPA over water quality standards

By Bryan Cohen | Jul 9, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (Legal Newsline) - Maine Attorney General Janet Mills announced a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging it failed to approve the state's water quality standards under the Clean Water Act.

The federal Clean Water Act requires the EPA to either approve Maine's revisions to its water quality standards or identify changes needed for the EPA's approval. Mills alleges the EPA has done neither by taking no action for some unspecified waters the EPA claims are within Indian territory.

The state requested that the EPA identify the affected Maine waters and explain what standards should apply to the waters in Indian territory. The EPA allegedly declined to answer the state's questions, resulting in regulatory uncertainty for individuals in Maine.

"The EPA appears to be suggesting that the same river might be subject to different environmental standards, which makes no sense," Mills said.

"Where those stretches are, and what the standards may be, are anyone's guess. Maine's water quality standards, in the tradition of Senator Edmund Muskie (D-Maine) and Senator George Mitchell (D-Maine), are some of the best in the nation. And there is no question regarding Maine's authority here. The federal First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2007 conclusively held that Maine's environmental regulatory jurisdiction applies uniformly throughout Maine, including waters within Maine Indian territories."

The lawsuit seeks clear answers from the EPA or the court regarding the statewide application of Maine's water quality standards. The suit seeks a court declaration that Maine's revisions are now deemed approved and in effect throughout the state.

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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